Does Your Business Need a Boost? Blogs and Podcasts May Be Your Answer

Just when you think you have it all figured out in terms of marketing your business, along come some new technologies that revolutionize your company’s ability to promote itself to prospects and existing customers. And while most people have heard of these technologies by now, namely blogs and podcasts, few are taking full advantage of what these marketing mediums can offer their businesses.

Remarkably, as little as two years ago, blogs and podcasts were viewed as nothing more than places for opinionated people to rant and rave or assert their viewpoint. But today, the tide has changed, and both blogs and podcasts are the most explosive marketing vehicles to emerge since the Internet itself. Consider the facts: BusinessWeek reports that over 40,000 new blogs are popping up every day. And in 2006, the number of podcast feeds exceeded the number of radio stations worldwide, says the CIA World Factbook.

What does all this mean for your business? Namely, that you have a wealth of marketing opportunities that require little to no out-of-pocket expense. Use the following suggestions to make the most of your blogging and podcasting efforts.

Blogs

Blogs are short for “web logs.” They are easy to use and simple to set up, and they are a great format for promoting businesses. Think of a blog as a mini-website that you post comments to on a regular basis. Blogs are a powerful medium for delivering information, because when they’re done correctly, the information on a blog comes across as informational and less biased. Consider the following key points:

  • Blogs enable you to get consumer feedback in an unfiltered environment. Sure, that can create some challenges, but if you get negative feedback on your blog at least now you can address the issue and be aware of it. So in a sense, a blog is often like an instant focus group. Being receptive to getting customer feedback on your blog, positions your company as being accessible and interested in customer concerns. That’s a great selling point in today’s environment.
  • Because blogs are updated regularly, search engines like blogs and display them at the top of the search results. Construct your blog properly by using keywords the search engines will pick up within your blog entries. That way, when someone keys in a particular term about your business into a search engine, your blog will come up naturally in the results. This not only helps promote your business, but it also helps position your company as an industry leader.
  • Blogs are almost like an online community. Therefore, it’s a great way to talk about your company, its culture, and any industry trends. Blogs provide an easy forum for delivering information to customers about new products or offers, and for building relationships with customers. Likewise, if there were some sort of crisis occurring in the company, it’s a way to get the facts out there so you can deal with the situation quickly.
  • To make your blog more relevant and non-biased, reach out to people who will contribute to your blog. In other words, you can have people from within your company post entries, as well as outside experts or customers. Be careful, though, as a blog makes it easy for a disgruntled employee to post information that should not be public knowledge, such as proprietary information or trade secrets. Therefore, if you allow employees to post entries, establish some controls over the content.
  • Whatever you do, don’t create fake blog entries, where you pose as a customer or outsider and say wonderful things about the company. That approach usually backfires because people see through that. Be honest in all your entries.
  • You can find a number of inexpensive blogging services online that can help you set up and maintain your blog.
  • Podcasts

    A podcast is essentially your own radio show on the web. It’s an extension of a blog, whereby you make your entry more personal because you’re actually speaking the words, not just typing them. They’re a great choice for small businesses because they can help boost the company’s credibility and sales without having to invest much. Consider the following key points:

  • The first step to developing a podcast is to think of a unique concept or angle for your show. Since this is essentially a radio show dedicated to your business, you’ll want to give information that relates to your industry or company that your prospects and listeners would find informative and entertaining. So if you’re a financial planner, for example, you could do a podcast about wealth or investment strategies. If you own a catering business, you could do segments about easy entertaining secrets. Address the challenges your customers or prospects have and they’ll tune into your podcast.
  • Podcasts also allow you to appeal to niche audiences, because you can cover certain topics in more depth. You can make your podcast any length (30 minutes to an hour is common), and you can address specific or even obscure topics that you know your customers will find interesting.
  • To actually create the podcast, all you need are recording/mixing software and a microphone. Both of these items are installed on your computer, so there’s no need to go to a recording studio. With the software you can edit your podcast and include intro music. You can even put commercials into your podcast to sell your own products, or sell air space to others and include their commercials.
  • The beauty of podcasts is that people can listen to your show over and over, whenever they want. All listeners need to tune in is an mp3 player. And according to recent surveys, over 65 million people worldwide have mp3 players.
  • By creating podcasts and being informative, you can quickly become a leader in your industry. Prospects and existing customers who listen to your podcast will likely think of you when they are in need of what you offer or your area of expertise.
  • Make it easy for people to find your podcast. You can do that by submitting your podcast to different feed directories, such as FeedBurner or PodcastValley.
  • Blog and Podcast Your Way to Profits

    When it comes to blogs and podcasts, the key to success is to be informational. You need to give people lots of relevant information in order to keep them reading or listening. Yes, maintaining a blog or doing a regular podcast takes time and discipline. But when you consider the amount of credibility and exposure to new customers these technologies give you, no company can afford not to use these tools as a vital part of their online marketing mix.

    How to Turn Your Business Into a Remarkable One!

    What is a Remarkable Business?

    My definition of a remarkable business is – a business that serves its customers like no other on the planet.

    The only purpose of any business – whatever the size – is to provide the highest possible service, value and result to every single person that inquires of you, asks advice from you and buys or invest from you.

    If your business is a remarkable one, your competition will have no chance. Your business WILL be the compelling choice to your customers! You and Your business will be constantly written about, interviewed and publicised.

    Let me share something by Seth Godin:

    This is an essay about what it takes to create and sell something remarkable. It is a plea for originality, passion, guts and daring. You can’t be remarkable by following someone else who’s remarkable. One way to figure out a theory is to look at what’s working in the real world and determine what the successes have in common. But what could the Four Seasons and Motel 6 possibly have in common? Or Neiman-Marcus and Wal*Mart? Or Nokia (bringing out new hardware every 30 days or so) and Nintendo (marketing the same Game Boy 14 years in a row)? It’s like trying to drive looking in the rearview mirror. The thing that all these companies have in common is that they have nothing in common. They are outliers. They’re on the fringes. Superfast or superslow. Very exclusive or very cheap. Extremely big or extremely small. The reason it’s so hard to follow the leader is this: The leader is the leader precisely because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken-so it’s no longer remarkable when you decide to do it.” -Seth Godin, Fast Company/02.2003

    My question to you is, as a small business where do you start? Where do you start turning your business in to a “Remarkable” one?

    Go back to your Vision Statement (if you have one!). Make it your businesses Primary Purpose to be a remarkable one in your industry, county, country or worldwide and so on…

    Look at every single process in your business and ask the question “how can i make it remarkable”?

    What is the alternative? If you do not deliberately choose to be remarkable.. you are choosing to be ordinary. Ordinary businesses are always chasing customers, profits and what ever they can grab on the way. Long hours, poor team morale, dismal profits, too much hard work for very little return, price driven competition are typical symptoms of an ordinary (me too) business.

    To be ordinary or “Remarkable” – it your choice!

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    5 Strategies For a Prosperous Family Business

    A proverb that aptly describes the early days of most small businesses is the African proverb, which says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Though new owners delight in rapid growth when they start their business, in order to sustain their business in the long run, they are aware they need to build on to their team. To begin with, the work load is easier to manage for a business owner, but as projects and tasks build up, extra help is needed and family members are usually the first to be recruited as employees.

    Family-run businesses are popular in the United States (they make up for 60 percent of the gross domestic product). They keep capital safe in family structures and family members tend to be eager about working for their relatives. Say you have a family member who is knowledgeable about marketing strategies for small businesses; it would be smart to utilize their ideas to help your business grow.

    There are some downsides to the structure of family businesses though. Family members may not be qualified to handle certain tasks, such as bookkeeping for small businesses. Bookkeeping requires one to be numbers-driven, exact, and perhaps even removed from emotions. If a family member handling this task is too driven by emotions (such as trying to make a family member proud), they may falter and mess some things up. It may be smart to consider bringing in outsourced accounting services to help with creating a uniform, impartial bookkeeping process.

    Here are some more tips that can help your family business be successful:

    1. Create job descriptions.

    When hiring a new employee, a business usually has a clear set of responsibilities and tasks for them. Just as you would have a list of expectations for outsourced accounting services you are working with, you should make sure that there is a clear and concise job description for every role in your business. That way you don’t assign your family member to a bookkeeping job if they have no background in or don’t know what bookkeeping for small businesses involves. If every role in your business is explicitly explained, you are able to evaluate every one’s performance.

    2. Set appropriate wages.

    Don’t over or underpay family members solely on the basis that they are your family member. Instead, research how much workers are making at other firms and then apply that information to the wages you set. Reviewing pay levels is actually one of the most successful marketing strategies for small businesses.

    3. Hold regular staff meetings.

    It is important for the delegation of tasks, checking in on current projects, and overall communication within a business to hold staff meetings. Even if you see your family members that you work with every day, a brief daily or weekly staff meeting will keep everyone on task and the business staying on top of the work needed to be done.

    4. Set a few ground rules.

    Setting some ground rules for your business helps upkeep structure, informs everyone about company procedures, and helps people understand and resolve conflict.

    5. The blurring of the line between personal and business realms in a family business.

    This doesn’t have to be a negative point. Family goals at work can prove to be useful for when you need to increase energy and motivation among your employees.

    Keeping the tips above in mind, don’t forget that you can turn to outside consultants, such as outsourced accounting services, which can provide unbiased business remarks and advice that may be difficult for family members to do.